Is gain detergent biodegradable? (11 components of gain detergent)

This blog article shall answer the question of the biodegradability of gain detergent.

It shall also cover other topics such as:

  • The ingredients of gain detergent and their purposes.
  • The difference between a soap and a detergent.
  • The biodegradation process.
  • Eco-friendliness of gain detergent.
  • Toxicity of gain detergent.

Is gain detergent biodegradable?

No, gain detergent is not biodegradable. Gain detergent is made from different ingredients that range from organic to synthetic. As a result, the process of biodegradation is hindered by synthetic ingredients which are not susceptible to degradation.

Biodegradation is affected by several factors, and chemical compounds are one of the factors. Biodegradation occurs as a result of agents such as bacteria and fungi. 

Some chemical compounds affect the activities of bacteria and fungi, either by interfering with the pH of their habitat or by affecting their metabolic processes. This in return affects the rate of biodeterioration.

What is biodegradation?

Biodegradation is the breakdown of organic matter by microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi into the water, carbon dioxide, methane, and minerals. Heat energy is produced in the process.

Biodegradation occurs in three distinct stages: biodeterioration, bio-fragmentation, and assimilation.

Biodeterioration is the first stage of biodegradation that involves abiotic factors such as light, UV radiation, and water to help in the weakening of the structure of organic substances.

Bio-fragmentation is the second stage that involves the physical breakdown of organic matter into small particles, this is due to the biodeterioration of the organic matter in the first stage.

Assimilation is the last stage of biodegradation. It involves the bacteria and the fungi taking up the minerals and small biomass produced by the previous two stages into their biological systems.

The minerals are used as a source of energy and carbon for the synthesis of cells and tissues.

Biodegradation can occur in the presence or absence of oxygen. When biodegradation involves the microorganisms using oxygen, the process is called aerobic biodegradation.

Aerobic biodegradation produces carbon dioxide, water, and small biomass. Heat energy is also produced in the process. Aerobic biodegradation occurs very fast but it is not very efficient.

When biodegradation occurs in the absence of oxygen, it is called anaerobic biodegradation. The products of anaerobic biodegradation include water, carbon dioxide, and small biomass. In addition to these products, methane gas is also produced. Heat energy is released during the breakdown. 

Anaerobic biodegradation occurs slowly but is more efficient than aerobic biodegradation.

Biodegradation can be affected by several factors such as water, light, temperatures, the bioavailability of a molecule, and pH.

Water helps in the biodeterioration and mechanical fragmentation of substances, increasing the surface area for microbial degradation.

Light emits radiations that help in the biodeterioration and bio-fragmentation of organic matter. UV radiation is the most effective radiation. 

Temperature affects the rate of biodegradation. Some microorganisms are very active in high temperatures while others are active in low temperatures. The optimum temperatures for the microorganisms increase the rate of biodegradation.

Bioavailability is the availability of an organic substance to microorganisms. Highly concentrated organic matter has high bioavailability and this increases the rate of biodegradation.

pH is the measure of acidity or basicity of a substance. Some microorganisms are very active in acidic pH while others are active in neutral or alkaline pH. Optimum pH increases the rate of biodegradation

What is gain detergent?

This is a detergent made by the Gain company which makes different detergents and soaps.

Gain detergent is made from a mixture of different chemical compounds to make it more efficient and to give it a lovely fragrance.

The components of gain detergent include the following:

  • Sodium borate.
  • Dimethicone.
  • Ethanolamine.
  • Anionic surfactants.
  • Fragrances.
  • Alcohol ethoxylates.
  • Liquitint green.
  • Benzenesulfonic acid.
  • Pentetic acid 
  • Diethylene glycol.
  • Enzymes.
  • Sodium hydroxide.
  • Citric acid.
  • Water.


Water is used in this soap to act as a solvent for water-soluble ingredients.

It is also a medium that keeps the skin moist and healthy. It hydrates the skin.


Enzymes are used in soaps and detergents to break down biomolecules on food stains.

A protease enzyme is a group of enzymes that breaks down proteins into amino acids. 

In the absence of these enzymes, the protein molecule coagulates and hardens.

The enzymes are added to detergents to break down protein coagulants in blood or milk stains on clothes or dishes.

The proteins are broken down into amino acids which are easily washed off by the cleaning agents in the detergent.

Amylases enzymes.

Much like protease enzymes and other enzymes such as lipases, amylase enzymes break down starch molecules into small and simple glucose molecules.

The enzymes are added to detergents to break down stains containing starch. After the starch is broken down, the cleaning agents easily wash away the stains.


Dimethicone is a silicone-based compound that is added to gain detergent to give the detergent a smooth texture. It is a moisturizer and helps to remove wrinkles on the skin.

Sodium borate.

Sodium borate is added to the detergent to fight stains like oil. It is a sequestering agent that removes oily stains. It contains antimicrobial properties and is therefore used as a preservative.


Ethanolamine is used as a surfactant in detergents to increase the efficiency of soaps in removing stains. It is a chelating agent that attacks binds to dirt and is washed together with it.

Sodium hydroxide.

Sodium hydroxide is added to gain detergent to help in saponifying lipids. It breaks lipids into fatty acids and glycerol, helping in the cleaning of oily stains.

Pentetic acid.

This compound binds metals and inactivates metallic ions such as magnesium and calcium, therefore softening the hard water, which improves the cleaning properties of detergents.

The chelating of metallic ions also prevents the deterioration of soap oxidation processes caused by metals.

Citric acid.

This is an organic acid derived from citrus fruits. It is an alpha-hydroxy acid.

It is used as an exfoliant that removes dead skin cells from the skin making the skin smoother, fresher, and healthier.

Some studies show that citric acid also can cause skin thickness, and boosts the thickening of glycosaminoglycans in the skin.

Diethylene glycol.

Diethylene glycol is a petrochemical that is used in soaps as a penetration enhancer ingredient. It activates and enhances the activities of the other soap ingredients.

It contains antimicrobial properties and therefore it acts as a preservative for soaps.

What is the difference between a soap and detergent?

Cleaning agents are generally called soaps. But soaps are classified as either soapy (soaps) or soapless ( detergents).

Soapy detergents.

These are detergents that are derived from natural fats and acids.

The fatty acids are reacted with a base such as sodium hydroxide to precipitate soaps in a process called saponification.

They are sold as bars and are popularly known as bar soaps.

Soapy detergents react with metals in hard water to form scum which stains fabrics.

Scum formed by soapy detergents can also lead to pipe blockage and breakage.

Soapy detergents are biodegradable and therefore they are eco-friendly.

Soapless detergents.

They are types of soaps that are formed from crude oil reacting with sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide 

These kinds of soaps are popularly known as just detergents. They are mostly found in liquid and powder form.

These detergents are preferred over soapy detergents because:

  • They can be used with hard water since they do not form scum that stains fabrics.
  • They perform well when mixed with a solution containing sulfuric acid.

Soapless detergents have the following disadvantages.

  • Some soapless detergents are non-biodegradable.
  • They can react to the skin causing irritation and allergies.
  • Biodegradable detergents consume a lot of oxygen in the water bodies which is dangerous to aquatic life.

What is the eco-friendly and toxicity of gain detergent?

The eco-friendliness of gain detergent is still a topic under discussion. Some of the ingredients that make up the detergent have raised some concerns.

Alcohol sulfate, alcohol ethoxylates, and ethanolamines are some of the compounds in gain detergent that are said to be toxic to aquatic life.

Ethanolamine is believed to cause respiratory effects and organ effects. It also can cause allergies and skin irritation.

Alcohol ethoxylates are believed to cause cancer and also have effects on the endocrine and reproductive systems. It also causes allergies, skin irritation, and vision damage.

According to a study, the environmental friendliness of a detergent should be determined by its ingredients. Some ingredients such as phosphates have been banned in the USA.


This blog article has answered the question of the biodegradability of gain detergent.

Also covered in this article are topics like:

  • Components of gain detergent and their purposes.
  • Difference between a soap and a detergent.
  • Eco-friendliness and toxicity of gain detergent.

For any questions or comments please use the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): is gain detergent biodegradable?

What detergent is biodegradable?

The biodegradability of detergents is dependent on the ingredients. Detergents made from natural products acquired from plants and animals are 100% biodegradable. 

Is gain laundry detergent toxic?

Gain detergent contains ingredients such as sodium borate which poses risks to reproductive and endocrine systems.

Most of the ingredients are non-biodegradable and therefore find their way into water bodies and affect aquatic life.

Is Gain better than Tide?

Tide has been ranked above Gain detergent in terms of cleaning ability. Gain detergent has been ranked above Tide in terms of the collection of fragrances. It is upon one to choose what they like.


Andrew Palermo. ( June 20, 2022). Tide vs. Gain Laundry Detergent: What’s the Difference?

Retrieved from:

Charity S. (July 06, 2009, 10:46 pm). Gain Laundry Detergent. A review of Gain laundry detergent at

Retrieved from:

Neugebauer, Judith M. (1990). “Detergents: An overview”. Methods in Enzymology. 182: 239–253. doi:10.1016/0076-6879(90)82020-3

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